Monday, February 14, 2011

First Run Review-Hoka One One Bondi-B "Maximalist" Natural Running Shoe

Karl Meltzer of Pony Express Trail run fame and Hoka One One runner announced on his blog   that Wastach Running Center in Salt Lake had the new Bondi-B road runner in stock. I went over today and purchased a pair.  They told me they are selling fast and they will ship if one doesn't live local to Salt Lake.

I had previously posted about the Bondi-B as part of my Outdoor Retailer coverage and have very much enjoyed almost 500 miles in first generation Hoka One One Mafates . I have run trails and roads and hiked in these super light 10.8 oz "maximalist" shoes and find them particularly well suited to long runs on the road and trail. Legs stay fresh no matter what you throw at them.

My first run in the Bondi-B on the Basin Rec. Fieldhouse track in Park City did not disappoint.
Hoka One One Bondi-B Road Running Shoe

Fit and Construction:
Wider, less constrained toe box than Mafates or for that matter most shoes I have recently run in. Less stitching and more welded overlays. While the Mafates sometimes cramped the front side of the foot the Bondis have a far more open construction. They will breathe well and as feet stretch there will be some give. They do fit 1/2 size small. This was true for me and for the person who fitted me at Wasatch.

The outer sole is comprised of orange more durable wear areas in the  heel and forefoot between blown softer EVA of the midsole. Traction should be great on the road. Remains to be seen how they perform on the trails. Karl Meltzer just completed his fastest 100 mile ever in a pair on a relatively (for him) trail course.

Run Feel:
8.8 oz with a near zero forefoot to heel drop of 4mm.  As light as many racing flats with amazing cushioning which doesn't feel mushy. They are not only 20% lighter than Mafates but 10% firmer and in my 4 mile run this made a big difference. Much more responsive with a run feel more like a conventional shoe but with no perceptible shock. While the Mafates were great on long slower runs at speed they felt somewhat boaty. I did not run fast tonight after a long run Saturday and an uphill nordic ski Sunday but Bondi-B sure felt snappy.

Hokas are stiff and use the rocker angle of the sole to get one's stride over the mid foot. I found that this approach requires getting used to at longer distances, for me over 13 miles, as while legs felt great to the end pace seems difficult to maintain.  I think Bondis will be easier to tame as they are lighter and have a bit less cushioning . My next tempo I will crank up and speed and report. My plan is to run Boston in the Bondi-B if I can get them up to speed.


Anonymous said...

Nice review on those Bondi B. Since you seem to know both Bondi and Mafate, which ones would you choose to run low distance ''trails'', typically by the sea on sand, stones and grass. I initially planned to elect the Mafate but they might be a better pick for long mountain trails...

Anonymous said...

What about the combo xt? Bondi B with the Mafate sole.

Sam Winebaum said...

Sorry not to reply eariler Anonymous. I have been running in the Hoka Stinson Combi XT for a month or so. Excellent on both road and trail and I prefer to Bondi or Mafate. Bondi because it turns out the rocker geometry is different than Mafate and not good for me on long road runs I much prefer the Stinson upper to Mafate as the upper is lighter and less stiff, The sole really works well on both trail and road and looks like it will wear far better than the Bondi's soft EVA. See some info here at my Outdoor Retailer post here:

Nick Bradley said...

Hi Sam, I realise this review is from 2011 but just curious whether you still recommend sizing up in the new 2012 Bondi B's? I hear Hoka have 'fixed' their sizing this year.

I wear a US 11.5 in Brooks (Flow) and want the equivalent size in both the Bondi and the Evo. I'm also generally a US 11.5 in Salomon (Speedcross 3). Any thoughts?


Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Nick,
Can't say for all models but just this week am testing the new Hoka Stinson B EVO Tarmac. It fits true to size for me whereas before I sized up Hokas. I am writing a first review later today. Great shoe The EVO with a road sole. Also a 6 mm heel toe drop which in my view is good as the previous 4mm in the Bondi caused me problems when very tired in long races, got way back on the heels into all that soft foam.

Nick Bradley said...

Thanks for the quick response Sam. Great blog by the way! I look forward to seeing your review of the Evo Tarmac.

One last question, I see you wear the Brooks Flow ... one of my favourites as well. What US size do you wear in these? And what size did you get in the Evo Tarmac?


Sam Winebaum said...

Nick, they gave me a size 9 as that is what they had. They are a half size to big for me. I usually wear 8.5 but was in 9 maybe 9.5 in previous Hokas. Note I have heard that they provide a second thinner insole which can be used to reduce volume by stacking on top of the thicker one or remove thick one and use thin one to get a bit more room. At least that is what I have heard as my test pair's box only had one insole. On Pure Flow let me check my size when I get home. Last month or so been in Kinvara 3, similar shoe to Pure Flow and much improved over the sloppy KInvara 1

Nick Bradley said...

Ah excellent! That really helps. I'm in between sizes so just trying to get a perspective. Thanks again.

Sam Winebaum said...

Nick, I am a size 9 in Brooks Pure Flow and they fit me just right. Thanks for reading my blog. Was at the Outdoor Retailer Show and will have posts on all the goodies I found in next few days.

Ken_Q said...


I am a beginning runner (14 months no prior training) - with 7 half and 3 full marathons done (many told me too fast too soon - but I was standing all day working in sweatshops when I was a kid so my feet can take some pounding). I went to a running shoe and they fitted me with Brooks and New Balance shoes for over pronate. I ran with them but it was hurting my knees. I switch to Saucony Kinvara 3 on my last marathon and got PR and my knees did not hurt as much. Last week I brought a pair of Bondi Speed 2 because an ultra marathon run told me about it. I did some research on the internet and found out that the Stinson Evo Tarmac is about one once lighter and has more crushing - is this true? My Hoka Bondi S2 is a US8 and I and the weighted left shoe is 11.9 ounce; right shoe 11.3 ounce. My shoe is way out of Hoka's claim of 9.5 ounce on their website and 10 ounce for size 9 on thetrishop website. Should I contact Hoka? Since you have run in both of these styles Bondi S2 and Tarmac - what do you recommend between the two? I like what you said about the Bondi when your feet get heavy on the couple of last miles and a more than 4mm gradient is better. Please advice - Ken

Sam Winebaum said...

Hi Ken,
Wow you have done a lot in 14 months. Likely you are starting to have issues as aerobic capacity comes first then muscles, tendons, and bones build up. During that time at least 3 years injuries can occur in the progression above. My friend Ed Knapp has written about this on his blog As far as the Hokas the weights are confusing as I think Hoka bases its weight on UK sizes which are smaller than US comparable sizes. I usually get my weights from Running Warehouse as they are consistent. I have run in the original Bondi and the Tarmac and much prefer the Tarmac although I think the Bondi has changed for the better. I found Hokas, at least for me, are good for recovery and slow runs. At speed I have a hard time getting the knee drive from the rocker sole when tired. You need some strength to run them fast. I am really liking the Adidas Boosts these days. Almost Hoka like in their cushioning yet very responsive and fast. the 10mm drop is a bit to much but I also believe that in later stages of a marathon you need the heel lift help. I also train in Altras zero drop along with the Hokas. I think some zero drop is very important but also believe it has to be cushioned. The super minimal is a asking for injuries.
Thanks for reading my blog!